Lawmakers are enabling sexual predators

Recent high-profile predator almost escaped arrest

By Melanie Blow

First published in the Albany Times Union

Words cannot describe the depravity of Arthur Gannon’s crimes against the two young sisters he has been convicted of abusing. But he was only convicted because of uncommon luck.

Gannon’s victims kept their silence for a decade. That’s a long time, but the trauma of child sexual abuse is so great survivors need, on average, 21 years before they can talk about their abuse. In New York, most victims lose their right to press charges on their 23rd birthday due to a statute of limitations on the crime.

That means if Gannon’s victims had been a little older at the start of their abuse, or if they had kept their silence just a little longer, he would still be on the street. And he would have had company; experts say 90 percent of sex offenders never see a day behind bars for their crimes and statutes of limitations are the most significant reason.

The Child Victims Act (S-7296/A-9877) eliminates the statute of limitations in both criminal and civil cases and allows victims previously denied justice one year to sue their abusers, so abusers could be revealed and barred from working with kids. Albany has had 10 years in which to pass this bill and hasn’t. How many children have been sexually abused because of our legislators’ inaction? How many more will if we aren’t mindful of who gets our votes in November’s state elections?

Melanie Blow

COO of the Stop Abuse Campaign

Rochester

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